Schweinfurt-based unit making final preparations for Iraq deployment
Stars and Stripes August 5, 2006
SCHWEINFURT, Germany — Mere days remain before the 1st Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team starts moving downrange.
For some of Dagger Brigade’s soldiers, that’s still too long.
“All the new guys in my platoon joined to go downrange,” said Sgt. Chad Oliver, a combat engineer and team leader with Company C, 9th Engineer Battalion.
All four soldiers on Oliver’s team have never deployed before.
He said when word came down that the unit’s deployment to Iraq was going to be delayed, his soldiers were upset.
“We were confused [about the delay],” Oliver said. “It got to the point that we wouldn’t believe anything until we had sand on our boots, but we took the training seriously.
“Now that we have the chance to go, everyone’s excited.”
Over the past week, some 1,300 pieces of equipment have been readied for movement by every unit in the brigade. The only equipment left is what will be hand-carried onto a plane.
Behind the fire station on Conn Barracks, tracked and wheeled vehicles of all shapes and sizes rolled through various stations being checked and rechecked by their operators and about 40 soldiers from Bamberg’s 240th Quartermaster Company who were making sure things were done right.
“This is a final check of equipment and documentation before it goes to port and gets loaded on a ship,” said Sgt. Maj. Glenn Gibbs, of the 1st Armored Division Transportation Office, who was overseeing the “Installation Staging Area” as the vehicle readiness process was called.
Most of BCT’s vehicles, artillery and shipping containers are headed to Antwerp, Belgium, and then on to Kuwait for the soldiers to pick up.
Gibbs, who has helped several units through this process, said that normally he can get eight to nine vehicles done in a hour, but that Dagger Brigade was averaging 15-20, putting them days ahead of schedule and meaning possible time off for soldiers who’ve been working overtime since the deployment order came July 16.
“Everything’s going according to plan and according to schedule, if not ahead of schedule,” said 1st Sgt. Shawn Lowenthal, who leads the 160 troops of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 9th Engineer Battalion.
Asked how his soldiers are doing, Lowenthal said, “We’re ready now. … Morale has been steady because we’ve always been focused on the mission.”
As of Friday morning, that mission had yet to be defined.
“Right now, it’s an on-order mission,” said Capt. Mark Larson, an operations officers with the 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery. “We’ll stay in Kuwait until we get the call. Right now we just don’t know.”
Although violence is rising in Baghdad, and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been quoted as saying Iraqi forces will be in charge of the country by the end of the year, the 2nd BCT soldiers seem unfazed.
“We still have orders to go. It doesn’t matter what’s in the news anymore because we’ve still got orders … we’ve worked toward this for the last year, and now we’ve got to cash in our chips,” Larson said.